Way Back Playback: A Top-Secret Family Recipe

There is but a small window of opportunity during which to enjoy the treat I am about to share with you, today.

My friends, that time is now.


I kid you not when I say that Mom could be famous for this strawberry pie recipe.

It’s the pie recipe that Dad listed as his favourite (yes, the one that I forgot!) in our Father’s Day quiz game.

True story: once, my parents needed some basic legal paperwork completed. The lawyer who did the work (friend of my Dad’s) said no payment was necessary…except for one of Mom’s strawberry pies.


As far back as I can remember, we’ve celebrated in June with strawberry pie. It was a longstanding family joke that Mom never made enough strawberry pies during the (too short) local strawberry season. Because this pie needs local, freshly picked berries; do not attempt with imports.

Now, to be honest, I have never made this pie myself…ummm, or even the pie crust [Brainwave! I see a New Experience here: “Get a Pie Crust Lesson From Mom!]…but we won’t let that stop us from discussing this recipe today. In an ideal world, I would have a vlog tutorial, with Mom demonstrating her perfected pie techniques. Some day. In an ideal world, I’d have an actual pie from Mom to show you. [Maybe this post will inspire Mom to make up a pie TODAY!]

You’ll just have to trust me and try for yourself.


  • 5 cups flour (2.5 cups EACH all-purpose and whole wheat flours)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp sugar
  • 1 lb pure lard or shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tsp vinegar
  • cold water

Stir together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in lard with 2 knives until the size of peas.

Beat egg in a measuring cup. Add vinegar, and enough cold water to make 3/4 cup. Pour over pastry, blend until it balls up, then knead for a few seconds. Divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Either roll out immediately to fit pie plates, or freeze balls of dough.

[Therefore, you get eight crusts out of this recipe – – > for four top + bottom crusted pies or eight bottom-crust-only pies, or a combination thereof].

*while we’re featuring strawberry pie today, this pie crust is perfect for any type of pie.

**this pie crust is unique to Mom – she is the one who conceptualized the inclusion of whole wheat into this recipe


  • 9″ baked pie shell [to bake shell, bake in 475 degree oven for 7-8 minutes]
  • 4 cups fresh berries (1 quart)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • dash salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

Wash berries. Hull. [Can you tell Mom wrote out this recipe specifically for me?!] Place 3 cups of the choicest berries in pastry shell [Place them neatly so the pointy ends are up].

Crush remaining 1 cup of berries in a saucepan [Mom suggests using a potato masher]. Add water and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain. If needed, add water to make 1 cup of juice.

Combine cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a saucepan. Slowly add berry juice. Bring to a boil, cook and stir until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat. Add lemon juice. Cool to lukewarm. Pour glaze over berries in pie shell, coating all of the berries. Refrigerate pie at this point until serving. Serve with slightly sweetened whipped cream.

Do use real whipped cream! I remember we all could hardly contain our excitement to dig into Mom’s pie, but we always had to wait that extra five minutes while she made the fresh whipped cream. I swear Dad, The Brother and I would sit around the table like vultures, forks poised, practically drooling in anticipation. It’s funny how we had our individual pie-eating styles:

Dad would dollop on his whipped cream, then painstakingly swirl and contour the white topping with such precision that you’d swear he was painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Mom enjoyed dainty bites, each mouthful the same size as the last. I would eat the interior first, and save as much crust as possible til the end (the best part of pie!). The Brother could scarf two slices in record time, and still be ready for more.

Happy Strawberry Season!


Do you practise any quirky unique pie-eating methods? I’ve never understood how some people can eat pie back-to-front!

Any super-secret family recipes in your possession? You don’t have to spill the beans, just share the name!

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  • Lisa  On June 24, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Wow…looks so yummy! Thanks for sharing. I don’t have any secret family recipes….maybe I should come up with one!

  • Gina Unger  On June 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Cannot wait to make your mom’s recipe for this pie! I am literally drooling right now! 🙂
    As for family secret recipes??? I’ve got so many from my mom that I can’t even keep track! (I don’t think any are very “secret”! I’m always sharing the recipes around.) 🙂

    • 1970kikiproject  On June 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm

      haha! you won’t believe this, gina! mom wondered aloud if anyone would actually make this pie, and she answered her own question by saying, “maybe gina will!” 🙂 oh, i bet YOUR mom has TONS of great recipes. i got a pistachio bundt cake from her way back in high school – still have that recipe!

  • Johanna B  On June 24, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Forgot to mention that my family has no secret recipes. We’re all open books when it comes to cooking. We do carry down some fantastic middle western style recipes though.

    • 1970kikiproject  On June 24, 2011 at 4:39 pm

      yes, i doubt GF flour could give the same taste in this crust – it really is amazing. that’s great that your family is willing to share recipes – spread the goodness all around! 🙂

  • Johanna B  On June 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Please ship one of your mom’s strawberry pies to Topeka stat! Celiac Disease be danged I’ll even eat the crust. Sounds sooooooo yummy. I do love me some garden fresh strawberries.

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